Justice Dept. Challenges American-JetBlue ‘Northeast’ Alliance

By Kurt Stolz on 21 September 2021
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An America Airlines Boeing 737 in Miami

The Justice Department Tuesday filed an antitrust lawsuit that challenges the recent partnership between American Airlines, the world’s largest carrier, and JetBlue Airways.

The suit alleges that the carriers’ partnership, which was first announced in July 2020,  threatens competition.  The two airlines say they are giving consumers choices.

The lawsuit specifically alleges that the partnership will eliminate head-to-head competition in key hubs in the Northeast and, further, that it could hurt travelers across the country by reducing JetBlue’s incentives to compete directly with its partner.

“In an industry where just four airlines control more than 80% of domestic air travel, American Airlines’ ‘alliance’ with JetBlue is, in fact, an unprecedented maneuver to further consolidate the industry,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a written statement.  The four airlines are American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines.

Six states and the District of Colombia joined the Justice Department in the suit, which was filed in a Massachusetts federal court.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, which conducted an extensive review of the then proposed alliance, gave the proposal a green light in January of this year.

Multiple politicians came out in favor of the plan, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who was senate minority leader at the time.

“I am glad to see JetBlue and American Airlines collaborating on innovative solutions to save thousands more jobs in a way that also expands New Yorkers’ travel options,” the senator said.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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